for this game

Arizona State keeps rolling, beats California

Oct 28, 2007 - 8:13 AM TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Arizona State is for real, and they may just be the class of the Pac-10.

Rudy Carpenter passed for 223 yards and a touchdown and Dimitri Nance rushed for 85 yards and three scores to help the Sun Devils overcome a first-quarter deficit and earn a 31-20 victory over 18th-ranked California.

"It was not all that much fun in the first quarter, to be honest with you, but our guys believe," Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. "They came out early against us and put some points on the board."

Arizona State intercepted a pair of passes from Golden Bears quarterback Nate Longshore in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

"We made some big plays on both sides of the football," Erickson said. "The two interceptions were key in the fourth quarter. What can I say? We just keep battling."

The seventh-ranked Sun Devils (8-0, 5-0 Pac-10) entered the season as long shots in the conference with heavyweights Southern California, Oregon and California seemingly entrenched at the top. But Arizona State ripped through the soft early portion of its schedule and entered Saturday's contest as the lone remaining undefeated team in the Pac-10.

California (5-3, 2-3) was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country just two weeks ago, and served as the Sun Devils first ranked victim of the season.

"ASU is a good football team," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They have a great defense and a physical offensive line. They did not turn the ball over and that is the key to winning games. They are a great football team."

The Golden Bears looked to be in control from the opening kickoff, running up a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter when Cameron Jordan recovered Carpenter's fumble and returned it 12 yards and Jordan Kay kicked a pair of field goals.

But Arizona State scored just over a minute into the second on Nance's 11-yard touchdown run. Longshore made it a 13-point lead again when he found DeSean Jackson on the left side for a 21-yard scoring strike, but Nance found the end zone again with under four minutes remaining in the quarter, and the Sun Devils trailed just 20-14 at the half.

After Arizona State forced the Golden Bears to go three-and-out on their first possession of the third quarter, Nance scampered up the middle with 10:11 in the third to give his team its first lead of the game, 21-20.

"I think we did the same against Colorado, Oregon State, Washington State and even Washington, being down at halftime," Carpenter said of the early deficit. "We know how to deal with that adversity. We know how to come back and put it together."

The Sun Devils would add a 47-yard field goals from Thomas Weber later in the third.

Justin Tryon intercepted Longshore on the first play of the fourth quarter and linebacker Robert James picked off another pass on the Golden Bears next possession, holding Arizona State's lead at a slim 24-20.

But Carpenter and the offense capped the scoring and put the game out of reach with a 12-yard strike down the middle to Kyle Williams with 7:07 to go in the fourth. Carpenter completed 16-of-28 passes.

"We were number four on the BCS, but we really didn't get talked about that much," Williams said. "We just felt we had to go out there and prove ourselves against a good opponent like Cal and just come out there and play our hardest."

The Sun Devils will face an even tougher test next week when they travel to No. 5 Oregon.